This savory vegan pasta bake is pure comfort food! It's super simple to assemble, it's ready in less than one hour, and it's loaded with ribbons of pesto, juicy tomatoes, and the creamiest sauce. Serve with a big salad and watch everyone gobble it up!
This hearty vegan pasta bake is a truly delicious meal! It comes together quickly and easily, and I promise you, the whole family will devour it. Noodles coated in creamy cashew sauce with swirls of pesto running throughout...what's not to love? If you're craving comfort food, this is what you should make for dinner tonight!
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Pasta - Use your favorite small pasta or you could substitute orzo, vegan tortellini, or pearl couscous.
- Cashews - You can use shelled, raw, unsalted sunflower seeds if you need a substitute. The sunflower seeds would also need to be boiled for 10 minutes before you add them to the blender.
- Almond Milk - You could also use oat milk or your favorite plant milk as long as it's not flavored or sweetened.
- Lemon - Fresh lemon juice brightens the sauce and gives a lot of flavor.
- Tapioca Flour (or Starch) - Tapioca gives the sauce the thick, stretchy, cheesy texture. You can use 1 tbsp of arrowroot powder instead of 2 tbsp of tapioca flour if necessary.
- Dried Seasonings - Garlic and onion powder add loads of flavor!
- Vegan Pesto - I used a jar of pre-made pesto, but if you want to make it from scratch, use this vegan recipe.
- Tomatoes - Tomatoes add a juicy pop of flavor and color. You could also add mushrooms or zucchini.
- Dairy-Free Cheese - I used a block of Violife vegan parm that I grated, but you could also use vegan shredded mozzarella.
How To Make It
Begin by boiling the cashews. Next, cook the noodles in a pot of boiling water. While the noodles are boiling, make the cashew sauce.
Add the cashews, unsweetened almond milk, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, tapioca flour, and lemon juice to a high-powered blender and blend the mixture on high until it's smooth and creamy.
Pour the cream over the noodles and stir to combine (Photo 1). Add dollops of the pesto and swirl it throughout the noodles (Photos 2 & 3).
Top the casserole with diced tomatoes and grated vegan parm (Photos 4 & 5). Lastly, cover the casserole with parchment paper and bake it for 20 minutes or until the cheese has melted (Photo 6). Serve and enjoy!
You can make the vegan pasta bake just as the recipe states, or you could switch it up with the following variations:
- Marinara: Instead of the creamy sauce, substitute a 32 oz jar of marinara.
- Plant-Based Protein: You can add extra protein to this baked pasta by mixing in one can of rinsed and drained great northern beans, lentils, or chickpeas, or one cup of cooked green peas.
- Crispy Topping: Top the casserole (before you bake it) with buttery bread crumbs to add extra texture and even more flavor!
- More Vegetables: Make this pasta bake a more substantial meal by mixing in broccoli florets, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, spinach, or diced zucchini.
What Goes With it?
I like to serve the bake with a big salad drizzled with vegan ranch dressing along with a tray of roasted veggies. Any of the following recipes would be delicious side dishes.
- Maple Dijon Brussel Sprouts
- Vegan Lemon Tahini Zucchini Salad
- Roasted Asparagus
- Vegan Arugula Avocado Tomato Salad
How To Store It
Put the leftover pasta in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days or freeze it for 2-3 months.
When you're ready to defrost it, put the container in the fridge to thaw for 24 hours. Then you can warm up the pasta on the stovetop, microwave, or bake it again in the oven. You'll need to add a little bit of almond milk or water to the pasta to help loosen it if it's too thick.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you need to boil the pasta before you bake it. There's not enough liquid in the casserole to make the noodles soft while you bake it.
You should bake the pasta covered for half the time and then uncover it so the cheese on top will melt. If you leave it uncovered for the whole time, the pasta will get hard and dried out on the edges.
I like to use smaller noodles that have ridges or pockets to catch the sauce. Penne, macaroni, shells, cavatappi, or fusilli are all good options.
- Use store-bought pesto (I used Sprout's vegan pesto) to save time and make dinner even easier to make.
- Make sure to use unsweetened plant milk. Vanilla-flavored or plant milk with added sugar will make the savory sauce taste sweet.
- Tapioca flour may also be labeled as tapioca starch. They're the same.
- Undercook the pasta by 1 minute because the noodles will keep cooking while you bake the casserole.
- I used grated vegan cheese for the topping, but you could also top the vegan pasta bake with bread crumbs or grated brazil nuts (surprisingly, it really looks like grated cheese!).
Want More Vegan Pasta Recipes?
- Vegan Spinach Artichoke Dip Stuffed Shells
- Vegan Taco Pasta Salad
- Sun-Dried Tomato Basil Hummus Pasta
- Vegan Lasagna
Vegan Pesto Pasta Bake
- Small Pot
- Large Pot
- 9x13-inch Casserole Dish
- 16 oz penne pasta
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 3 cups unsweetened almond milk
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp tapioca flour (or tapioca starch)
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 6 oz vegan pesto (I used a 6 ounce bottle of Sprout's Organic Vegan Pesto)
- 4 medium roma tomatoes diced
- ½ cup vegan parmesan cheese grated (I used a block of Violife parmesan cheese)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Put the cashews in a small pot and cover them with 1 inch of water. Bring it to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium high. Boil the nuts for 10 minutes. Drain the water and put the nuts into the blender cup.
- In a large pot of salted, boiling water, cook the pasta for 1 minute less than the directions say. While the noodles are cooking, make the sauce. When the noodles are done cooking, drain the water and pour them into a 9x13 casserole dish.
- Add unsweetened almond milk, lemon juice, tapioca flour, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and black pepper to the blender cup. Blend on high until it's smooth and creamy.
- Pour the sauce over the noodles and stir it to coat each noodle. Add dollops of pesto on top of the noodles and use a spoon to swirl it throughout.
- Sprinkle the diced tomatoes over the pasta and top it with grated vegan parmesan cheese. Cover the casserole with parchment paper (or foil) and bake it for 10 minutes. Remove the parchment and bake for 10 more minutes or until the cheese has melted.
- Store leftover pasta in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days or you can freeze it for a future meal.